There was a great article from CNN the other day about simple mistakes candidates make on resumes.
We started discussing the article at BountyJobs, and it led us to think of all the times we hear recruiters on both the employer and 3rd party side coaching candidates on a variety of issues to make them more attractive to hiring managers. Coaching candidates on their resume, how they present themselves, and in the end how they are perceived by the hiring manager.
Here’s our twist and big question. Once you find a good candidate, who should coach them? HR or headhunter? Both roles coach, but who is best suited for the task? Which one is more appropriate? As you ponder (or maybe you have a strong opinion already), here are some best practices we’ve heard on coaching candidates on resume dos and don’ts.
Best practices for coaching candidates no matter who you are
- Don’t be gawdy! A resume shouldn’t look like an ugly Christmas sweater. You only get one first impression and when it comes to the job search, the first impression is the resume. Resumes should not be flashy so avoid pictures and personal websites. They should be clearly organized and easily scanned.
Make sure fonts, letter size, indentations, and margins are consistent. Even more important – details that are specific. Exact dates, statistics, and facts make a resume real. I remember reviewing a candidate’s resume (who turned out to be a top candidate), who had a near miss with being ignored. The resume had bad formatting, was difficult to follow, and the accomplishments were over generalized. Luckily, I saw through the resume issues and interviewed the candidate anyways.
- Know where to aim the spotlight. The primary purpose of a resume is to get an interview with the employer. If a candidate understands the employer and what is important to them, they are then able to connect their own experience to the needs of the employer. A focused resume will increase the candidate’s chances of earning an interview. Use keywords and industry language to illustrate how your accomplishments and skills are transferable to what is required in the job role.
There can be another debate (or blog post) on how long a resume should be, some say under one page, while others say it can go up to two. My opinion? By stripping out some of your irrelevant experience you not only accomplish shortening your resume but also maintaining the employers focus on what is most relevant. At my previous company, industry experience was very important, however, if a candidate could demonstrate that their prior experience would make them successful in our industry we would often conduct at least a phone interview to explore the possibilities.
- Time is of the essence! Hiring Managers are busy individuals and time is one of their most precious commodities. Interviewers want to be able to see what you have accomplished as quickly as possible. In many cases they are not looking for the breakdown of your daily tasks and assignments, but what your overall impact on the business was. They want to see how you have helped a current or past employer generate more revenue, cut expenses, increase customer retention, etc.
The kicker? You only have a few seconds to do that. Long drawn out paragraphs and run on sentences means yawns for hiring managers and then they are often on to the next candidate. Focus on simple, clear, well-defined bullet points to get your accomplishments across to the hiring manager. Try scanning the resume (or better yet, get someone else to) for the 30 seconds. What key information did you pick up? Was it enough to elicit interest?
Share your opinion with BountyJobs
HR or HH? What are your best practices when comes to coaching candidates? Who is the best for the job? Is it too late to coach a candidate on their resume once they have been submitted to the employer?
Should 3rd party recruiters be the only ones coaching candidates? Would you rather 3rd party recruiters not coach candidates on their resume? Put all your answers and opinions in the comments.